Kicking A Lion

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Our Biggest Mistake: Boycotting Sundance

After the Mormon Church, which is based in Salt Lake City, funneled $15 million into the “Yes on 8” Campaign, I was very much in favor of boycotting Utah.  The Sundance Film Festival boycott?  Not a chance!  Yes, I realize that 2004’s festival dumped $22 million into Utah’s financial bucket.  But boycotting Sundance was a poorly thought out, knee jerk reaction.  A boycott of the indie film maker festival would be like shooting ourselves in the foot.

Sundance began in 1978 in Salt Lake City, fueled by the dream of actor/director Robert Redford.  It was specifically designed to boost and showcase indie films.  In 1981 the 10-day festival moved to Park City, Utah and launched the Sundance Institute with programs such as the Filmmakers/Directors Lab.  By 1984 it had expanded into theatre with the Playwrights Lab. 

From the origins of the festival, Sundance has embraced GLBT films.  The lesbian romance classic, Desert Hearts, won honorable mention in 1985, Longtime Companion, won 1990’s Audience Award, Go Fish was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in 1994, Trick premiered at the festival in 1999 and in 2001 we saw a double winner (Audience Award and Directing) for John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  Many of the films showcased at Sundance won a place in After Elton’s 50 Greatest Gay Films.

GLBT documentaries have also won many awards at the festival.  In 1995 the unforgettable The Celluloid Closet was featured and in 2006 Small Town Gay Bar was a nominee.  AIDS themed documentaries have also been featured, such as the gut-wrenching Absolutely Positive in 1991.

To continue highlighting and promoting GLBT films, Sundance partnered with GLAAD to create the Queer Lounge in 2004.  For more details visit Queer Lounge.

It’s certainly too late to ask Sundance to move out of Utah, the festivals just 8 weeks away.  And it would be too costly for both the festival and the institute to move at all.  So yes, boycott Utah, but not Sundance.  Stock up on food and gas at the border and sleep in your car, but still head to the festival which has embraced the GLBT community for 25 years.


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